There have been many studies and reports that support the notion that travel is good for one’s health. Of course, the pandemic did have serious health implications preventing travel early on. But as we’ve seen with other world events or disasters, 9/11 for instance, travellers are hesitant at first, eventually adapting and growing accustomed to risk. They determine the reward of travel is worth the risk.
Covid-19 has become a part of our everyday lives; many of us accept that it’s a risk that is possible, but one that should no longer hinder us from living life. The good news is that, according to Destination Canada’s Resident Sentiment Report, many Canadians feel safe to travel again.
Through the pandemic, there was a silver lining for insurance providers: Covid-19 introduced a new level of awareness for the need for, and value of, travel insurance. In fact, the Travelweek Consumer & Agent Survey found that 82 per cent of Canadian travellers were more likely to purchase travel insurance post-pandemic last year, which is up five per cent, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
With rising travel costs and inflation, many experts have wondered whether this will deter the majority of travellers and put travel on hold. So far, this doesn’t seem to be the case. In an interview with Travel Courier, Matt Smith, Head of Travel Industry at Google Canada, said: “Travel was at the top of the list and continues to be at the top of that list [of how Canadians are spending their savings].” This comes as no shock as we have seen a disparity between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic travel, largely reliant on a shift in value systems. Millennials and Gen-Z, unlike past generations, have shown prioritisation of rest and exploration, which tends to align with travel and seeing the world.
Plus, according to Expedia’s 2023 Global Vacation Deprivation Report, 57 per cent of Canadian working adults surveyed said they were vacation deprived. People need to get back to what they love – travel. Numerous benefits come with seeing the world and exploring, but the most notable advantages that research has noticed post-pandemic were as follows.
From personal experience, I have found that planning is an exciting stage of travel
Connection with family and friends
Innately, humans need to feel love and belonging, and through the pandemic, this was an immense challenge for many. The lack of opportunity to see family or friends, especially those who didn’t live close by, felt like a significant challenge for most. So, it is no surprise that when restrictions were eased, people jumped at the opportunity to create lasting memories with loved ones; whether by travelling with or to them, they were intent on making it happen.
Expedia polled parents, asking them: “What’s become more important in your travel decisions since the start of the pandemic?” They responded that the physical and/or mental health benefits of travel and making up for lost time with family and friends increased in importance.
The pandemic forced isolation, impacting connection – essential in gaining fulfilment in our everyday lives. I read a fascinating article in National Geographic, where scientists discussed the bonding that comes with travel and its impact on relationships. They spoke of the importance of trip planning and exploring together, noting that ‘the social-distancing experiment the pandemic forced on us has emphasised how much humans – social animals that we are – need to be together’. It is not just a feeling – it’s proven!
Creating happiness and improving mental health
The pandemic created a significant decline in mental health among the general population. The World Health Organization reported that in the first year of the pandemic, there was a 25 per cent increase in anxiety and depression levels. Though this is due to a myriad of factors, one connection some have found was the restriction of movement caused by Covid-19 being a determinant.
A 2023 Journal of Transport & Health study found that when people did not have access to opportunities to travel beyond 15 miles from their homes, they were more likely to self-report poorer personal health than those who did.
From personal experience, I have found that planning is an exciting stage of travel; knowing that R&R is in my near future makes it all that more enticing. And I’m not the only one: a Cornell University study found that the anticipation of a trip can actually increase happiness and that experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tends to provide more happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). In fact, according to report author Matthew A Killingsworth: “We spend a lot of our mental lives living in the future. Our future-mindedness can be a source of joy if we know good things are coming, and travel is an especially good thing to have to look forward to.”
One study found that workers who took more days off had fewer cases of coronary heart disease
Travel as a form of reflection and self-discovery
When we think back to the whole ethos of travel, people often go to new destinations to build self-discovery through exploration. Michael Brein, a social psychologist specialising in travel, believes one of travel’s key benefits is that it offers invaluable learning opportunities.
“You are more curious and more open to new experiences,” he said. “You learn to relate to people better because you have a need to interact with new people. And therefore, you have an influx of new ways of looking at things.”
Travel improves physical health
Dr Kristin McKitish advises: “When elevations in stress hormones – such as cortisol – are sustained, we put our bodies at an increased risk for many ailments and chronic diseases… Think high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, digestive issues, and more. It is imperative that we take the time to combat these stressors and travelling can be a great tool.”
Furthermore, one study, ‘Vacation frequency is associated with metabolic syndrome and symptoms’, found that workers who took more days off had fewer cases of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke or other serious health problems than those who took fewer days off. The risk of developing these problems even appeared to decrease by a quarter with each additional break. This is one of the reasons people always look forward to a holiday: because it is a designated time to unwind, which offers numerous advantages in the long term.
How travel insurance helps improve post-pandemic travel feelings
As travellers continue to explore the world, they’ll do so with safety as a more important priority. And insurance providers, like TuGo, have focused heavily on how to best care for travellers because, ultimately, there is nothing more important than being able to support them when they are at their most vulnerable. We anticipate coverage for Covid-19 is here to stay, just as coverage for a cold or flu is today, under emergency medical insurance.
With Expedia reporting that travel disruptions are a major pain point for travellers globally, it should also be our mission as providers to help alleviate frustrations that come with post-pandemic travel. Comprehensive emergency medical air travel benefits, trip cancellation and interruption insurance for cancellations and delays and other offerings, including parametric services like TuGo’s MyFlyt service, have never been so needed.